To encourage more people to use the popularity-contest system in Ubuntu, there should be a checkbox in the Software Preferences window for turning it on.


Ubuntu uses the popularity-contest system from Debian to collect statistics about which packages are popular within the community. This information is used for such purposes as determining which packages to include on Ubuntu CDs and sorting in package management UIs. However, choosing to participate in this program is cumbersome and should be simplified. The more users participate in this effort, the more useful the information is. However, participation cannot be enabled by default for privacy reasons. Thus, we would like to make it simple for the user to opt to participate.

Use cases

  • Max is an Ubuntu user, and wishes to express his opinions about which software in Ubuntu best meets his needs
  • Jane is an Ubuntu developer, and needs to decide which packages to kick off of the CD images so that they fit on standard media. She wonders if anyone actually uses the packages in ship.
  • Sam is an Ubuntu user, and curious about which software other users prefer. He would like to find new applications that he, too, might like


Extensions to the Software Properties dialog to include settings for participation in popularity-contest


Add a new tab to the Software Properties dialog, called Feedback. It will contain the following UI elements:

  • A checkbox, labeled Share information with Ubuntu about which software I use. Its current value will be set by testing the value of the PARTICIPATE variable in /etc/popularity-contest.conf (yes or no). When applied, this setting will modify /etc/popularity-contest.conf and change the PARTICIPATE variable accordingly.

    • One or two short explanatory sentences in the window itself, aligned under the checkbox label. Something like:
      [ ] Record my software choices on        ( Show Results )
          This helps developers plan future Ubuntu versions. No personally identifying information is sent.
      More detailed information can go on the Web site.

  • A hyperlink to where the user can see the results of the survey



Data preservation and migration

Unresolved issues

  • An entire tab for a single checkbox and associated button is probably excessive. Ideally this would go in the first tab, but doing that would require a more extensive reorganization of the window. -- MatthewPaulThomas

  • I would say that this is still too difficult to come across. If one thinks about what this package is for, we currently have an extreme skewness in the data. The only people who will come across the checkbox, buried in the software properties dialogue, are moderate to advanced users. I would say that, in addition to this checkbox, a dialogue should be presented to the user the first time that they open Synaptic, Add/Remove Programs, Smart etc. Alternatively, an additional question could be added to the installer. This will ensure that popcon gets a sample "pure" enough to rely on. Without this, advanced system tools, testing utilities etc. will get an extreme over-representation in the statistics at the expense of the games and applications installed by the majority of more novice users. See Bug #55637. -- LunaTick


SimplePopconParticipation (last edited 2008-08-06 16:28:42 by localhost)